UK - Some 600 AstraZeneca workers are being balloted on strike action over proposed changes to the defined benefit pension scheme.
GMB - along with Unite - will ask its members to support a campaign of strikes to urge the multi-national drug company to reconsider its current position and consult meaningfully on scheme changes. The ballot began yesterday and will end on 16 August.
AstraZeneca has said its £1.4bn deficit is unsustainable and has proposed as of July 1, this year any pay rises will not be considered as pensionable salary.
In reaction GMB national officer Allan Black said: "I very much regret that we have been forced to this course of action by AstraZeneca's onslaught on our members' pensions.
"Every constructive alternative we have put forward has been ignored. This is particularly disappointing in the light of the huge sacrifices recently made by our members to ensure the profitability of AZ and its shareholders. We want no more than fair treatment for our members who actually generate these profits."
GMB also argued AstraZeneca had financially performed "extremely well" in recent years - last year operating profit was up by 24% and the first quarter of this year shows year on year growth of 11%.
However, AstraZeneca said it was "disappointed" and any form of industrial action would not be in the interests of its employees or AstraZeneca's business in the UK.
A statement said: "The changes to UK pension benefits, which took effect on 1 July following an extended period of consultation with employees and trade unions, will ensure that ongoing pension provision is sustainable, equitable and affordable.
"AstraZeneca remains committed to providing a very competitive level of pension benefit and the changes made ensure all employees continue to have access to pension arrangements that compare favourably to other organisations in the UK."
It added employees in the DB plan who choose to leave would receive AstraZeneca funding in respect of pension of between 14% and 18% of base salary, which could either be put into the new group self-invested pension plan or (for eligible employees) would be available as cash to spend as they wished within AstraZeneca's flexible benefits arrangements.
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